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Kip Kinkel
Kip Kinkel mugshot – 1998.jpg
Mug shot of Kip Kinkel
Background information
Birth name Kipland Philip Kinkel
Born 30 August 1982 (1982-08-30) (age 27)
Springfield, Oregon
United States
Penalty 111 years in prison, without the possibility of parole
Date 20–21 May 1998
Location(s) Springfield, Oregon
United States
Killed 4
Injured 24[1]
Weapon(s) 9 mm Glock 19 pistol, sawn-off .22LR Ruger 10/22 rilfe, .22LR Ruger MK II pistol

Kipland Philip "Kip" Kinkel (born August 30, 1982) is an American prisoner who, at the age of 15, murdered his parents on May 20, 1998, and perpetrated a school shooting at Thurston High School in Springfield, Oregon on May 21, 1998, that left two students dead and 24 others wounded.[1] He is currently serving a 111-year sentence, without the possibility of parole.



Kinkel was born in Springfield, Oregon to William Kinkel and Faith Zuranski. He has an older sister, Kristin. His parents were both Spanish teachers, with Faith Kinkel also having taught French at Springfield High School, and Bill Kinkel having taught at Lane Community College. The Kinkel family had spent a sabbatical year in Spain when Kip was six, where he attended a non-English-speaking school; his family later said that he struggled with the curriculum.[1] When Kinkel returned to Oregon, he attended Walterville Elementary School in Springfield. He became a fan of Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson; Manson's song The Reflecting God was a favorite of Kinkel's. He had the lyrics framed in his bedroom.[2] His teachers considered him immature and lacking physical and emotional development. Based on the recommendation of his teachers, Kinkel's parents had him repeat the first grade.[1] In the fourth grade, he was diagnosed with dyslexia and was placed in extensive special education classes.

During adolescence, Kinkel faced periodic legal trouble. He was first arrested in late 1996 for stealing CDs at a Target store. On January 4, 1997, he was again arrested in Bend, Oregon after he and his friends were throwing rocks at passing cars on a highway. After his second arrest, Kinkel was sentenced to 32 hours of community service, and was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation at the Skipworth Juvenile Detention Facility. He was later placed in psychotherapy, where he was diagnosed with clinical depression.

Kinkel had an intense interest in firearms and explosives from an early age. His father at first denied this, however later enrolled his son at gun safety courses, and bought him a .22 caliber Long Rifle Ruger rifle and eventually a 9mm Glock handgun when Kip was 15. According to Kinkel, his psychologist, Jeffrey Hicks, told Bill Kinkel to "let Kip have the guns, for it will be a good outlet."[1]

Events leading to shooting


On May 20, 1998, Kinkel was expelled from Thurston High School for being in possession of a handgun. A friend, Korey Ewert, had stolen a pistol from Scott Keeney, the father of one of his friends, and arranged to sell the weapon to Kinkel the night before. Kinkel paid $110 for the gun, a Beretta .32 pistol loaded with a 9-round magazine, which he then placed in a paper bag and left in his locker. Scott Keeney soon discovered he was missing a handgun, and called the police to report it, and gave them a list of names of students he believed might have stolen the firearm. Kinkel's name was not on the list. Eventually, the school became aware of his possible involvement and sent for him. When he was checked for weapons, he reportedly stated: "Look, I'm gonna be square with you guys; the gun's in my locker." Kinkel was expelled from Thurston High School, and he and Ewert were arrested. Kinkel was released from police custody and driven home by his father.

Murder of parents

Once home that afternoon, Kinkel's father told him he would be sent to boarding school if he did not begin to cooperate. At 3:30 P.M., Kinkel retrieved his locked-up Ruger semi-automatic rifle from his parents' room, loaded it, and proceeded to the kitchen, where he shot his father in the back of the head.

He then waited for his mother to come home. As she walked up the stairs from the downstairs garage, at about 6:00 p.m., Kinkel told her that he loved her and shot her twice in the back of the head, three times in the face, and once in the heart.

He later claimed he wanted to protect his parents from the embarrassment that his expulsion would have caused them.[3]

Kinkel dragged his mother's body from the bottom of the stairs, into the garage and dragged his father into the bathroom, where he locked the door. He placed a white sheet over each of the bodies. During the night he also played the song "Liebestod" from the volume 2 soundtrack of Romeo + Juliet repeatedly. It was still playing when the police arrived at the residence[citation needed].

The shooting at Thurston High School

On May 21, Kinkel drove his mother's Ford Explorer to the high school. He wore a trench coat to hide the four weapons he carried: a hunting knife, a 9 mm Glock 19 pistol, a Ruger .22 semi-automatic rifle, and a Ruger .22 pistol. He was carrying 1,127 rounds of ammunition.[4]

He parked outside the school, entered the hallway and fired two shots, one fatally wounding Ben Walker and the other wounding Ryan Atteberry. Kinkel then entered the cafeteria and, walking across it, fired the remaining 48 rounds from the 50-round magazine in his rifle, wounding 24 students[5] and killing 16-year-old Mikael Nicholauson. Kinkel fired a total of 51 rounds, accumulating 37 hits, and two fatalities.[4]

When his rifle ran out of ammunition and Kinkel began to reload, wounded student Jacob Ryker — recognizing from his own experience with guns that Kinkel was out of ammunition — tackled him, and was soon assisted by several other students. Kinkel drew the Glock, and fired one shot before he was disarmed, injuring Ryker again as well as another student. The students restrained Kinkel until the police arrived and arrested him.[6]

Nicholauson died at the scene, and Walker died after being transported to the hospital and kept on life support until his parents arrived. The other students, including Ryker, were also taken to the hospital with a variety of wounds. Ryker was in critical condition because of a perforated lung; however, he made a full recovery.

Seven students were involved in subduing and disarming Kinkel.[7]

Trial and imprisonment

A mug shot of Kinkel at Oregon State Correctional Institution taken in 2007.

When brought to the police station, Kinkel lunged at Al Warthen, a police officer, with his knife, screaming, "Shoot me, kill me!" The officer repelled Kinkel with pepper spray. Kinkel later said that he wanted to trick the officer into shooting him, and that he had wanted to commit suicide after killing his parents but could not bring himself to do so.

It was reported that he had two bullets strapped to his chest at the time of the shooting, in order to end his life.[8][citation needed]

At Kinkel's sentencing, the defense presented a number of experts in mental health in an effort to prove that the assailant was mentally ill. Jeffrey Hicks, the only psychologist who had treated Kinkel before the shootings, maintained that he was in satisfactory mental health. However, he had only seen Kinkel for a total of nine sessions, after which the boy's parents terminated the therapy.

On September 24, 1999, three days before jury selection was set to begin, Kinkel pleaded guilty to murder and attempted murder, foregoing the possibility of being acquitted by reason of insanity. In November 1999, Kinkel was sentenced to 111 years in prison without the possibility of parole. At sentencing, Kinkel apologized to the court for the murder of his parents and the shooting spree.[9]

In June 2007, Kinkel sought a new trial. He argued that his previous attorneys should have taken the case to trial and used the insanity defense. Two psychiatrists have testified that Kinkel exhibited signs of paranoid schizophrenia at the time of the shooting.[10] In August 2007, a Marion County judge denied him a new trial. His lawyer planned to appeal.[11]

Kinkel is currently incarcerated at the Oregon State Correctional Institution in Salem, Oregon. He received his GED while serving a portion of his life sentence at MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility in Woodburn, Oregon. On June 11, 2007, Kinkel, nearing his 25th birthday (maximum age to be held as a juvenile in Oregon), was transferred from the Oregon Youth Authority, MacLaren Correctional Facility, to the Oregon State Correctional Institution.[12]


  1. ^ a b c d e "The Killer at Thurston High: Who is Kip Kinkel?". Frontline. PBS. Retrieved 2007-06-24. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Tapes show Kinkel's return to scene of Oregon school shooting". CNN. January 21, 2000. Retrieved 2007-06-26. 
  4. ^ a b Fancher, Nicole (2006-10-02). "8 years later: Thurston and Kinkel revisited". Oregon Daily Emerald. Retrieved 2007-09-27. 
  5. ^ Verhovek, Sam Howe (1999-11-11). "Teenager To Spend Life in Prison For Shootings". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-14. 
  6. ^ "Accused Oregon school shooter shows no emotion in court". CNN. 1998-05-22. Retrieved 2008-02-24. 
  7. ^ "Thurston Memorial Dedication on May 21". The Register-Guard. 2003. Retrieved 2008-02-24. 
  8. ^ Police interview with A. Warthen (audio/video recording), Springfield Police Department (Springfield, Oregon).
  9. ^ Howe Verhovek, Sam (1999-11-11). "Teenager to spend life in prison for shootings". The New York Times. 
  10. ^ "Doctors: Kinkel hid schizophrenia". KATU. June 19, 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-26. 
  11. ^ "Judge denies Kip Kinkel's request for a new trial". KATU. August 8, 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-09. 
  12. ^ "School shooter Kinkel moves to adult prison". Statesman Journal. June 12, 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-23. 

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